District Two
Highway Officials Seek Input on Roundabout Intersection for KY 81/KY 56 in Owensboro

Press Release Date:  Monday, August 22, 2005  
Contact Information:  Keith Todd
Public Information Officer
(270) 898-2431 Ext. 233

Madisonville, KY  -  The use of traffic roundabouts are fairly common in Europe, but until recently have been rarely used in the U.S.   The improved traffic flow and safety provided by roundabout intersections has prompted their increased use on American roads.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Department of Highways is asking for public input on proposed construction of a roundabout at the intersection of KY 81 and KY 56 on Owensboro’s west side.  According to Transportation Engineer Branch Manager for Planning Kevin McClearn, roundabout intersections have a number of advantages.

 “The biggest item is safety.  A roundabout reduces the number of right-angle crashes. Vehicles slow and then proceed through the roundabout by merging into traffic,” McClearn explained, “A roundabout also reduces pollution because vehicles don’t have to come to a complete stop.”

Kentucky highway engineers will be available to discuss the proposed roundabout during an informational meeting from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on August 25, 2005, at the Green River Area Development District office located on U.S. 60 West, in Owensboro.

“We’ll have video presentations that show how the roundabout works.  We’ll be doing a formal presentation at 5:30 p.m., while being available to answer questions both before and after the presentation,” McClearn said. “We’re inviting anyone who has an interest in this project to come by even if they can’t make it for the 5:30 presentation.  We have photos and videos of roundabouts in Colorado, Maryland, Florida, and Kansas that demonstrate how the dynamics of the roundabout works.”

Safety is greatly improved because the number of possible collision points of a roundabout is substantially less than a standard 4 way intersection, and roundabouts all but eliminate the possibility of “T-Bone” accidents. 

“This is not your typical intersection.  Instead of stop and go traffic, a roundabout creates a smooth flow of traffic,” McClearn said.  “The typical type of crashes inside a roundabout are minor angle collisions, thus greatly reducing the possibility of injuries.  Roundabouts are out there and they’re working well.”

Highway engineers have prepared a computer simulation to show how the roundabout works based on the actual traffic count at the KY 81/KY 56 intersection.

“We put in our traffic numbers for this intersection and the computer will show how the dynamics of the intersection will change with a roundabout.   It shows how cars will enter the cue for the intersection and then flow through the roundabout to continue on to their destination,” McClearn said.

The roundabout also allows an opportunity for landscaping in the center.

“Some of these in other parts of the country have been wonderfully landscaped and have become something of a tourist attraction,” McClearn said.

McClearn expects a lot of interest among drivers who use the KY 81/KY 56 intersection on their daily commute.

 “We expect a lot of interest among those that regularly travel through this intersection to and from Owensboro to work and shop.   It sees some heavy peak times,” McClearn said.

The existing KY 81/KY 56 intersection is fairly complicated and can be difficult to negotiate for anyone who isn’t familiar with the layout.

“I was recently riding with my dad who doesn’t get to Owensboro much.  When we got to that intersection he said, ‘Okay, you’re going to have to help me find where to turn here.’  If you’re not a local, you really have to slow down and study the signs at that intersection to figure out where you’re supposed to go.  When you’re watching the guy in front of you and you’re trying to watch the signs it can be a pretty complicated intersection to negotiate.”

McClearn says a roundabout would not take up much more land area than the existing intersection.

Anyone interested in the proposed roundabout at the KY 81/KY 56 intersection is invited to attend the public information meeting from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Thursday, August 25, 2005, at the Green River Area Development District Office located at 3860 U.S. 60 West in Owensboro.